Free, at Last.

It’s been approximately 36 hours since I deactivated my personal Facebook profile. While this change might seem very simple and perhaps insignificant to some, it’s quite monumental for me. Granted, I’m still very fresh into this new Facebookless life I’ve chosen to live. The decision was a long time coming, and while I have a million reasons behind the choice, I’ll try to condense them into a neat, umbrella-like list:

  1. I was wasting too much time.

One of the first thoughts I’d have after waking up in the morning was about what to post as my first post for the day. I’d redirect my thoughts the majority of the time to focus on prayer and devotional, but all the while, my waking thoughts were on Facebook each day, which I found to be incredibly problematic. Things didn’t get better throughout the day, either, as I’d often be “searching” for my next Facebook post in any activity I was doing, regardless of how mundane. As I grew from a Facebook novice to an experienced user, I learned how to stop vocalizing every little thought and started to focus more on adding value through posts, but even those require a lot of forethought and planning and all of these things, no matter how great the intentions were behind them, ultimately were sucking up a lot of my time.

  1. My actions were being dictated by my presence in Facebookland.

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I was living my life in a way that catered toward what made for good Facebook content. This is a serious problem that I don’t believe I suffered from alone, but I can only speak on my own experience. The minute you start treating yourself, your hobbies, and your relationships like potential Facebook content…you should probably take a step back.

  1. I was tired of people looking at me.

Perhaps I sound like a Kardashian with this statement, but it’s true: I was tired of creating content for people to look at and scrutinize. It’s not that I can’t accept criticism. It’s not that I can’t disagree with folks in a healthy, mature way that upholds a level of mutual respect between us. It’s that there’s something different about the Facebook audience that is more bold, insulting, opinionated, and entitled than other mediums. When you write and publish a book, consumers and experts will critique it and you. This critique, though, often centers solely on the work you’ve created, your skill level, and your overall contribution to the art. Nobody is purposely trying to bash you for the sake of doing something to your soul. Not on Facebook. People are mean. I was censoring myself just to avoid being pounced on by bottom feeders when their opinions or actions shouldn’t matter or even be able to reach me if I don’t want them to.

  1. I’m turning more toward minimalist principles, and my Facebook consumption was not in line with these.

I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist, but I am currently on a quest to simplify my life by using minimalism as a tool for cutting excess. Facebook, to me, encourages excess: Excess picture taking, excess time scrolling profiles, excess time coming up with the perfect status, image, or video to post, excess time analyzing a cryptic message someone wrote to see if you should take offense to it or not, excess time explaining ourselves when we don’t owe anyone explanations for anything, and the list goes on. I was a member of Facebook from 2008 to 2016, and in that timespan I’ve seen Facebook content become the basis for multiple arguments in my family (shockingly enough, these arguments didn’t involve me directly) and among my friends (unshockingly, these arguments often did involve me). All in all, I don’t blame people, nor do I blame the creators and engineers who keep Facebook going. I blame the social engineering of our world that prevents us from growing into secure, emotionally intelligent people. Our society is built on the idea of keeping masses of people insecure, engaged in conflict, and perceiving the world as a place where people cannot get along. Facebook is just one of many vehicles through which this social programming reaches people.

Now, though I’m still fairly new at this off-Facebook lifestyle, I do want to make some observations about what I’ve noticed since making the change:

  1. I’m getting way more shit done.

I thought that my slowness to complete tasks at home was a reflection on my having aged, my having a child present at home, and the deterioration of my cognitive sharpness. Nope. While these things do undoubtedly take their toll and have on me in some way, they are not the underlying culprits behind why I haven’t gotten as much done in recent years – distraction is. Yesterday, I woke up and went berry picking with my husband and daughter in the morning, came home and had a quick bite to eat, chatted on the phone for 20 minutes with a friend, went out with Kennedy to a couple shops in search of art for our home, came back home and put Kennedy down for a nap, washed and folded five loads of laundry, cooked a meal of garlic and ginger chicken over rice from scratch, washed the dishes before and after I’d cooked, cleaned the master bathroom toilet, cleaned out my master bathroom drawers and under sink shelves, and cleaned out my nightstand drawers. I did all of this in one day. I also did all of this while passively watching a couple of stand up comedy specials on Netflix. Two weeks ago, if you’d handed me a list of those things and said, “Do this all in one day,” I would’ve had a conniption fit about how there aren’t enough hours in the day, all while scrolling my newsfeed or secretly itching to do so. I thought I’d go through withdrawal upon deactivating my profile, but I’m finding that now that it’s not there, I don’t really reach for it. I had a bit of an issue last night as I went to play some music and suddenly realized that my Spotify account is linked to my now defunct profile, but I’ve since gotten this straightened out and haven’t needed to refer back to Facebook for anything so far.

  1. My stress level has dropped significantly.

Celebrities say all the time that the worst part about being notable is that everyone starts attaching their expectations of you to your every action. If a person isn’t careful, they can end up in the work-life cycle of living for the approval of others rather than living for the fulfillment of self. I am not a celebrity or anything close, but my role as a health coach, educator, and longtime Facebook user made me feel I was in a position of holding up some imaginary standard for others to follow. I felt like I couldn’t allow myself permission to deviate from this in any way.

“People expect a fit Antoinette, so I’ve gotta be fit.”

“People expect me to brighten up their day, so it’s my obligation to brighten it up.” “Certain friends will become upset if I don’t “like” or “comment” on their posts even though I really don’t wish to engage with them because I don’t have interest in what they’re doing.”

Deactivating Facebook lets me get rid of all of these irrational thoughts and fears in one fell swoop, and it feels good. Especially as I refocus myself on my marriage, I don’t have to appraise my relationship with my husband by some standard of happiness that social media has set. He doesn’t need to create lengthy posts in my honor. We don’t have to be visible together on Facebook to make our marriage legit. We can just be us without the rest of the world having a say.

  1. I’ve regained privacy.

Perhaps that last statement was a proper lead in to this one. Many will argue that this, along with some of the other points I’ve brought up in this blog post, can be controlled by me the user and are therefore my own fault for violating because I chose to let the public see certain sides of me and my life. Yes, this is true, to an extent. I think we all have a sense of social responsibility to not perpetuate certain standards, too. If someone is sharing too much on social media, I think the responsible way of handling it is to address it with the person off of Facebook to let them know the dangers or drawbacks to their approach, speaking from a place of genuine care and concern. Don’t grab popcorn and sit in the front row to watch the show. It’s irresponsible to just sit back and let someone make a fool of themselves when we know better. We’re living in a time when people want to watch videos of young girls fighting and yelling obscenities at each other, or footage of adults abusing each other, children, or animals. The consumption of this behavior just gives rise to more, and ultimately speeds along the moral erosion of our world. Similarly, it’s not nice to find enjoyment in watching people act like train wrecks in the public eye. The formation or dissolution of romantic relationships, conception or miscarriage of a baby, intimate moments of a wedding, the experience of being laid off from a job, or the disagreements we have with people in our circle, whether friends or family – all of those things used to be private, and still should be. Voyeurism dictates that they shouldn’t be and that we as onlookers are entitled to minute-by-minute updates on a person’s very private life. The behaviors perpetuated by Facebook use, along with Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram use, negate this. I used to participate in this, but I no longer want to. I respect mine and others’ right to privacy.

This is the most significant change I’ve made since my life reset four days ago.

 

Life Reset

Don’t know what a life reset is? No worries. I don’t exactly know what it is either. I came up with the term when I was throwing around the concept of changing not what I do in my life, but rather my approach to my life.

The infrastructure of my life is beautiful: I have a great job that pays me well and I have fun running a growing business from my house. I’m blessed with a great family and a bright future as a wife, mom, coach, and student of life. I do not want to trade or get rid of any of these things, but I’ve been sort of just, “floating” between them.

I wake up, I go to work, I check in with my challengers and team, I contribute to the curriculum department at my job to create new, cutting edge course material, I exercise, I get other people to exercise, I cook food, I hug and kiss my daughter, I hold hands with my husband…eventually it becomes a really big blur of moving pieces. I love all of these pieces dearly, but I am not truly cherishing them as I know I can. The reason? I’m spread too thin, I’m running in circles, and I’m burning my metaphoric energy candle at both ends most days.

tree photo

I was given this life because I’m strong enough to live it; I just need to start living it now. 

 

This need for change has been evident for a while, but I wasn’t truly moved to make a change until: 1) after my enlightening visit to see my cousin and his wife in Chicago, and 2) I gained some perspective on just exactly what being in my 30s means in relation to my 20s, which are already over, and my 40s which are approaching.

Being around my cousin and his wife last week showed me what potential one could have if they utilize some proper planning, but also leave space for the fun. He’s always kind of been more like an older sibling to me and I’ve watched as he’s met and married his wife, and witnessed as they became parents alongside Fabian and I as their daughter is less than three weeks older than Kennedy. They are not perfect people, but they are definitely the kind of people who you want to have rub off on you because of the cohesiveness of their union, the forward progression of their personal and professional lives, and they still manage to remain relatable, lovable people in the process, which is rare. They also enjoy their life. No, not by base jumping or swimming in diamonds or sleeping on sandy beaches every weekend, but by building simple, yet gratifying activities into their day-to-day. I felt a sense of refresh come over me by staying with them for a week because though they wrangle a lot in their lives – business trips, raising a toddler, paying bills, budgeting, and the woes of living far away from family – they still find the time, energy, patience, and ability to enjoy the life they’ve built. This was eye-opening to me.

The second event that woke me up to my need for change, believe it or not, was Ali Wong’s stand-up special, “Baby Cobra,” which I watched while nursing a cold on the couch a few nights ago. My husband watched it first and recommended it, and boy, does he know me.

Ali Wong had me in stitches. I’ll save the review of her show for another platform, as most readers don’t come here for my commentary on television specials. One reason I enjoyed her candid, vulgar set so much is because I could relate on a variety of levels.

She’s a thirtysomething. She wasn’t swept off her feet when she met her now husband (a graduate of Harvard Business School). She struggled with fertility issues before finally conceiving her first child (she’s actually in her second trimester during the special). She isn’t some dainty, pretty girl with dainty, pretty thoughts – the woman explains her obsession with porn, her envy of housewives and stay at home moms, her feelings about her maturing from a hot, young 18-year-old to a still young, but getting older 34 year old, and her resentment of teenage girls for their effortless ability to be firm, tight, gorgeous, and desirable. While maybe not all of those areas apply to me exactly, I laughed along with Ali’s audience because I could relate.

The broad beacon of reason in Ali’s special was that though she, and many other thirtysomething women in the US, might not have it all together, she’s doing her best to make sure that what she does have is freaking awesome. She spoke frankly about the fact that your 30’s are all about recharge, renewal, refocus, and inner growth as she explained that she and her husband enjoy going on yoga retreats, listening to relaxation podcasts, and taking it easy at home. Funny, because I can relate there as well! Though her journey through adulthood has included some embarrassing moments and heartbreak, she’s fixed her gaze upon looking forward and carving out a beautiful path for herself, wherever it may lead.

Funny, you’d think that the two events that moved me to want to change my life so much would be more massive and significant than one trip to see family and a comedy special, but it really is as simple as those two things that put me in a position to write this blog post today.

I am no longer 26. When I was 26, I had what seemed like endless energy. I could run in circles if I wanted to because A) I probably wouldn’t even notice what I was doing and B) I had the gas to push through something like that without becoming weary. At 32, I’m not old, but I’m certainly not as full of energy as I once was. If I’m going to exert myself, I need to be happy about it at the end of the day.

I used to think that the expectations placed on me by my job and by my friends and by my parents were obligations I’d need to live up to. I’ve learned now that the only people I’m truly obligated to are my husband, our daughter, and myself. Everyone and everything else is accessory, especially with regard to my work. I have never been labeled as lazy because I am not, but I am also no longer interested in being a workhorse. I flat out told my boss that I, “may or may not meet” a deadline when approached with a task last week. The Antoinette of 2007 would’ve worked extra hours to appease the boss, and the Antoinette of 2012 would shake in her heels while trying to take a stand. I’ve dropped all pretense.

The question I’ve had to ask myself: Who am I trying to impress? The neighbors? Some group of girls I went to college with? My coworkers? People at a party? I don’t go to parties, ever, and if I lost stature with any of the other aforementioned groups it wouldn’t make a lick of difference in my life. I’d still live in this bangin’ house. I’d still be Mrs. Oesterlein. I’d still be Kennedy’s mom. Jesus would still love me.

So, rather than throw my New Year’s resolutions down the tube for yet another year, I’m going to attempt to turn it around by truly re-centering myself so that I can better attack my anxiety, get a handle on my time management, be a better wife to my husband, be a better mom to my child, and my favorite of this already fantastic list: add more value to the world around me. I want to live purposefully, intentionally, and fully while I still have the time to.

 

Reset.

This will likely manifest in a series of other posts from me, so stay tuned.

 

 

Retiring the Machine

Every walk of life includes peaks and valleys, and for much of the journey we can imagine ourselves participating in an ongoing climb. We strive to do more, be better, achieve things we’ve never had, etc. Look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs if you need further clarification on this part of the life cycle.

I’ve been climbing my own mountain for quite some time now, longer than I had initially imagined. I can remember standing in the den of our house in Vista, holding a then only 4 1/2 month old Kennedy, discussing with Fabian the plan of action for how we would relocate ourselves, our baby, our careers, our cares, and our belongings to the other side of the country for the greater good of our entire family. The clock started then, and so did the climb. After that decision was finalized and we started the process, everything just got faster and faster…

Ever since, I’ve had momentary pauses, but I’ve been in motion the entire time. If not to put together the puzzles of a cross country move, then to learn the new lay of the land here in Florida, to find a job, to get back into school, to find something fun to do as a release, to adjust to online teaching as a career, to run in five directions consecutively in order to keep relationships intact, and to somehow keep my head above water through it all. In the midst of this, I also decided to start a business of my own. Where I found the time to do that I will never ever know, but that’s what I did and I’m just about a year in with it. Oh, and add an escrow to the tail end of that. Those are never ever fun or easy. If you can recall the Myth of Sisyphus, the former king had been condemned by the Greek gods to roll a boulder up a mountain with the aim to maybe leave it at the top or let it roll down the other side only to find that each time he would near the peak, the weight of the boulder would result in its rolling back down the path it had traveled. Sisyphus’ plight demonstrates the concept of insanity to us, because for as long as Sisyphus rolled that boulder, the outcome always remained the same. To do the same thing over and over and expect different results is exactly what insanity is, and week after week, month after month, and (I can actually say) year after year I felt the weight of the insanity that has been my life for two years.

mom and kennedy

One of the momentary pauses I got to have during this two-year period. Kennedy is only 8 months old here, and though the move was happening when this photo was taken, I wasn’t completely buried under my obligations yet. I was still able to freely be a wife mom here, and I’m so, so anxious to get back to this place again. (Photo credit: Primrose Plum Photography)

 

But unlike Sisyphus, I actually get to realize a different, much more triumphant outcome.

I hold two masters degrees now. I run two businesses from home and make my own work schedule. I live in a house that has everything I need in it and is located near people I care about living close to. All of these achievements were goals and milestones I set for myself, so I’m elated to have been blessed to realize each one of them.

But what it took…

Time and energy are just the surface sacrifices. Those moments of watching cartoons with my little one, going on dates with my husband, helping my mom and dad around the house, and sitting still long enough to talk on the phone or have lunch with a friend have also been sacrificed. My personal care has been sacrificed. Don’t worry, I kept showering through all of this 😉 but I could’ve used more sleep. I could’ve used more time to myself to think. My soul could’ve benefitted from more time spent playing my guitar. My body could’ve done better with more exposure to the sun.

I symbolically crossed the finish line on Friday when I defended my way to a perfect score for my MBA capstone, with boxes and blue painter’s tape still strewn about my newly moved into house. On Friday, the journey ended, and so did a chapter of my life that I didn’t even know I was capable of living through. It will go down as the most painful, difficult to budge, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore’ shouted through tears chapter in the Antoinette book, but it was so, 100 percent, absolutely necessary for me to write. I’m a better woman for it.

It’s time for me to retire the machine. A piece of her will always be present because of who I am by nature, but in much smaller doses. It’s time for me to recoup some of what I lost personally while I also process all of the ways in which I’ve been made different.

I would write more, but I hear my daughter calling me…

 

 

 

Progress Story

image1

I really hate this photo, but it’s the only evidence of what I looked like 10 months ago.

That’s me at the start of the year. I was fresh off of a life-changing move, in the habit of drinking nightly, and I ate whatever I wanted.

Those weren’t things I wanted, though.
I just wanted to feel happy. I wanted to find a way to get over relocating from the only place I had called home for the past 25 years to a place where I had no friends and no real history.
I wanted my t-shirts to fit again. I wanted to be able to stop alternating the same two pairs of pants because nothing else would zip up. I wanted to look in the mirror and like myself again.
So, I took some chances. I decided to stop playing around with pole fitness and make it my real hobby. I decided to stop cheering and clapping for others who were making transformations and step out and make one for myself.
With the help of the 21 Day Fix, Focus T25, my pole fitness mentor, and my coach, I grew stronger. I gained stamina. I reshaped my body.
I started to love what I saw in the mirror so much that I decided to get serious about helping others find the same change I had. And somewhere along the way between May and October, I lost track of just how I was doing.
I was waking up and working out and making good choices for the most part, but I stopped tracking my own progress. I just stopped paying attention, believe it or not.
…until I stepped on the scale last week and read 147. Then, I went to the doctor four days later and the scale said 144. Yesterday, it said 144 too. I haven’t weighed in at anywhere from 143-147 since before my daughter was born. I’ve also lost a total of 15 inches overall, with 8.5 coming off of my waist, 6.5 coming off my hips.
In other words – I haven’t been this weight and size since 2012.
My transformation story isn’t one of huge loss – I help people all the time who are very overweight and their progress lights a fire in me. I’ve never had more than 15lbs to lose at a time, though, so a shocking physical transformation isn’t something you’ll get from me.
My transformation includes a lot of other great things, though…
Like the strength to do pole climbs, pole sits, elbow stands, dismounts, one-handed spins, and pole ups (kind of like push ups, but gripping a pole instead of on the ground). I can keep up with Shaun T during a live workout whereas 6 months ago, I couldn’t even attempt his home workouts. I know what foods to eat to keep myself full and not add unnecessary calories to my day. I can lift my daughter, who is a toddler weighing in at 44lbs, with one arm. I struggled to carry her with two hands when she was an infant.
gemini

Gemini.

pole sit
I looked away just long enough to forget about my own progress, but I’ve technically reached my “goal”! Now to see what else I can change…

Sorry, not sorry!

Burlesque dancer and model Dita von Teese once said, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”

This quote didn’t resonate with me until about three months ago. As much as I have accomplished, I’m still guilty of allowing others to define me with their words and actions. Especially given the world of change that’s happened in my life over the last year, it seems like no matter what choices I make, what words I say, what I do, there is always someone out there who has a problem with it. But that’s really okay…

I’ve never been popular or in with the “cool” crowd. Growing up, I was a nerd (Oh who am I kidding? I’m STILL a nerd!). I joined a sorority in college only to leave a year later because I didn’t get along with any of my “sisters.” I’m also an only child, so being the odd one out really isn’t anything new to me. Something else that isn’t new is the concept that other people will use your actions or words as a scapegoat for what they decide to do, say, or think. I’m only just now, at 31 years of age, becoming intimately acquainted with this phenomenon.

I can’t explain the motives of others. I don’t know why people think what they think or say what they say. I only know what I’m doing, or saying, or feeling. Just as well, what I do and say seems to really irk folks at times and I get the sense that there are people out there who feel that I should be ashamed, be more tactful, that I should tone it down, or that I should say sorry.

The purpose of this blog post is to explain that I am indeed, unyieldingly not sorry.

Nope.

I’m not sorry that I moved away and found a new life for myself with my husband, my daughter, my mother, and my father.

I’m not sorry that I made new friends.

I’m not sorry that I decided to buy a Groupon to a pole studio here in town and then fell in love with the art. I’m not sorry for wearing short shorts and a sports bra. I’m not sorry for posting videos of myself pole dancing in my house.

I’m not sorry for working out and taking care of myself. I’m not sorry for posting videos or selfies of it. I’m not sorry about becoming a Beachbody coach. I’m not sorry about asking people to join me on my fitness journey.

I’m not sorry for embracing my faith and telling others about it. I’m not sorry for choosing to put God first and telling others about it. I’m not sorry for carrying my devotional book in my purse each day so that I can pull it out and get some spiritual rejuvenation in a world overflowing with assholes.

I’m not sorry for being a work at home mom and proud of it.

I’m not sorry that a year after moving away I don’t want to go back to San Diego.

I’m not sorry for having dreams and believing in them.

I’m not sorry for not being your picture of a perfect mom.

I’m not sorry for being proud of my 4.0 in school.

I’m not sorry for enjoying cooking and sharing that love with others through recipes and videos.

I’m not sorry about being candid at times about my marriage and the rocky places it’s been in the last 18 months.

I’m not sorry for waiting until my marriage was fixed to consider having a second child.

I’m not sorry for calling myself a professor. I am one. Can’t be sorry about the truth!

I’m not sorry that I believe that what’s my business isn’t anybody else’s unless I make it so.

I’m not sorry for calling people out who are disrespectful to my family and friends.

I’m not sorry about the friends I lost in the move. They were fraudulent people anyway.

I’m not sorry for not caring about cable television.

I’m not sorry for being me. No really, I’m not.

If you’re waiting for some sort of apology…you’ll be waiting a while. I hope you’ve got Netflix!

#NotSorry

not sorry 2

Kthxbye!

Blue Skies and Bug Repellant

Gainesville is very different from Vista. Geographically, it’s almost night and day with difference in weather patterns, the presence of more bugs, (mosquitoes, moths, grasshoppers, lovebugs, fiercer ants) and lusher, greener landscapes with ponds and rivers plentiful. Demographically, it’s different too. Much of the town is populated with people who used to or are attending UF, or just people who grew up here. Whereas Mexicans dominated the population in SoCal, blacks and Indians (people from India) dominate central Florida. It’s a university town that really does center on its university, and this town turns up for Gator games when the team is in town. Take a stroll through the local grocery stores or The Oaks Mall on game day and you’ll be met with a sea of orange and blue. You’ll also have a hard time navigating around game-goers in RV’s and campers on busy streets like Archer Rd. and Newberry Rd. on game day, as it seems everyone takes to the streets to display their pride, as well as make their way to Ben Hill Stadium for kickoff.

San Diego hardly displayed even a fifth of this town’s enthusiasm when the SDSU men’s basketball team played their best season in 2011…

I like this departure. I’ve mentioned many times since my 26th birthday that I felt a change of scenery would be good for me, but I was too afraid to make the leap, and I needed a reason to do it other than it seeming fun. Living apart from my mom and dad for six years changed my psyche in ways I didn’t become aware of until I reunited with them. My life in California contained a lot of suppression – especially on weekends and holidays. With a husband working long hours, my best friend was usually my Wii console, or a stack of ungraded papers, or a glass of red wine. Oh, my dogs, too. Can’t forget them. I was so jealous of my friends who were able to dial up their parents and easily fit in some quality time. I didn’t have much quality time from July 2007 to August 25, 2014. I place the start date at July of ’07 because once they decided they’d leave, our interactions were always shrouded under the shadow of the upcoming breakup that we knew was inevitable. It’s nice to stay up late talking to my mom and not have the stress of knowing one of us has to catch a flight out in a few days, ending all this fun until some other undetermined date, ruining the encounter.

The other priceless gift is watching as my daughter interacts with her grandparents on a regular basis. Both sides, both she and they, needed each other so much. We needed them so much. I needed this so much. I’m so glad I didn’t get up and walk off of that flight when I left…

There’s a lot that I miss about my life in California, and I’m not sure I’ll ever truly stop mourning certain relationships, certain routines, or certain features of the first house I ever owned. I hope to make new friends and establish new customs, but I’m also not in a rush to make things “just like before.” The only way I can write a truly new chapter is to fill it with fresh content, so life has to be different now.